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Should You Hire a Candidate Who Doesn’t Meet All the Requirements

Blog / October 10, 2019

Does the perfect candidate really exist? Have you ever met an interviewee with the perfect combination of skills, experience, and work ethic, whose references all check out and whose personality matches your company culture? The answer is “no.” Instead, you look for the best candidate—as close as you can get to that perfect combination, but you’ll probably have to sacrifice at least one qualification. Here’s why you can still hire a candidate who doesn’t quite meet all the requirements. 

The benefits of finding someone unqualified

There are several benefits to hiring someone who isn’t totally qualified. First, you won’t have to break any bad habits that more experienced candidates have picked up along the way. Instead, as long as you hire someone who’s willing to learn, you can train them to adhere to your company procedures and policies. There will be room for them to improve and grow as a professional, and they’ll feel more loyal since you were willing to give them a chance. And less qualified hires are more willing to take a lower pay rate—at least until they’ve gotten more experience under their belt. 

Look for enthusiasm and passion 

You can always train someone to perform the skills you need them to, but you can’t teach passion or work ethic. Someone who’s really excited about your industry will be able to pick up any hard skill. Send them to workshops and conferences to learn more or enroll them in online courses. If they’re genuinely enthusiastic about the role in your company, they’ll do everything in their power to take in as much wisdom as they can. 

See if they can learn 

There are a few ways you can evaluate whether they can learn. You can simulate teaching them a new skill during the interview and see how well they perform it. Or ask them questions about the last time they learned something new or pursued a hobby. Learning to grow prize-winning tomatoes, paddleboard, or crochet probably isn’t useful in your company, but it’s certainly reflective of their ability to learn. 

Check references 

The candidate’s references will be very revealing as you complete your hiring process and might even sway you one way or the other. Former employers, coworkers, professors, and mentors can all give you insight about the candidate’s ability to learn, how hard they work, and their commitment to responsibility, integrity, and teamwork. 

The cons of hiring someone who’s less qualified 

Hiring, though, is always risky, and hiring someone less qualified means that you’ll probably have to do a little extra work along the way. You’ll have to spend time and resources on training, and they won’t be able to perform the job just yet. They might require a bit more supervision and handholding and you might find yourself investing in longer-term professional development, like courses online or at a community college. But if that candidate is naturally curious and fired up about the job, it might all be worth it.


For tips on evaluating your leading candidates, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh